The Nirvanic Plane

Links

Home
Next
Back

Bibliography

Last revised: 6 August 2008

Contents

The Nirvanic Plane is the Plane of the Highest Human Aspect

General Characteristics of the Nirvanic Plane
Nirvanic Consciousness
Attaining “the Asekha Stage”



The Nirvanic Plane is the Plane of the Highest Human Aspect

General Characteristics of the Nirvanic Plane

The fifth plane, the Nirvânic, is the plane of the highest human aspect of the God within us, and this aspect is named by theosophists Âtmâ, or the Self. It is the plane of pure existence, of divine powers in their fullest manifestation in our fivefold universe – what lies beyond on the sixth and seventh planes is hidden in the unimaginable light of God.

This âtmic, or nirvânic, consciousness, the consciousness belonging to life on the fifth plane, is the consciousness attained by those lofty Ones, the first fruits of humanity, who have already completed the cycle of human evolution, and who are called Masters. (1) They have solved in Themselves the problem of uniting the essence of individuality with non-separateness, and live, immortal Intelligences, perfect in wisdom, in bliss, in power.

When the human Monad comes forth from the LOGOS, it is as though from the luminous ocean of Âtmâ a tiny thread of light was separated off from the rest by a film of buddhic matter, and from this hung a spark which becomes enclosed in an egg-like casing of matter belonging to the formless levels of the mental plane.

“The spark hangs from the flame by the finest thread of Fohat.” (2) As evolution proceeds, this luminous egg grows larger and more opalescent, and the tiny thread becomes a wider and wider channel through which more and more of the âtmic life pours down. Finally, they merge – the third with the second, and the twain with the first, as flame merges with flame and no separation can be seen.

The evolution of the fourth and fifth planes belongs to a future period of our race, but those who choose the harder path of swifter progress may tread it even now, as will be explained later. (3) On that path the bliss body is quickly evolved, and a man begins to enjoy the consciousness of that loftier region, and knows the bliss which comes from the absence of separative barriers, the wisdom which flows in when the limits of the intellect are transcended. Then is the wheel escaped from which binds the soul in the lower worlds, and then is the first foretaste of the liberty which is found perfected on the nirvânic plane. …

In Nirvâna dwell the mighty Beings who accomplished Their own human evolution in past universes, and who came forth with the LOGOS when He manifested Himself to bring this universe into existence. They are His ministers in the administration of the worlds, the perfect agents of His will. The Lords of all the hierarchies of the Gods and lower ministrants that we have seen working on the lower planes have here Their abiding-place, for Nirvâna is the heart of the universe, whence all its life-currents proceed. Hence the Great Breath comes forth, the life of all, and thither it is indrawn when the universe has reached its term. There is the Beatific Vision for which mystics long, there the unveiled Glory, the Supreme Goal. (Annie Besant, AW, 169-70.)

(1) Known as Mahâtmâs, great Spirits, and Jivanmuktas, liberated souls, who remain connected with physical bodies for the helping of humanity. Many other great Beings also live on the nirvânic plane.
(2) Book of Dzyan, Stanza vii, 5,; Secret Doctrine, vol. I, p. 66, 1893 ed.; p. 98 Adyar Edition)
(3) see Chapter XI, on “Man’s Ascent.”

It is on the nirvanic plane that we realize most intensely that all that we thought to be our consciousness, our intellect, our devotion, our love, were in reality His consciousness, His intellect, His love, His devotion, manifesting through us somewhat as a light might shine through a lens. That realization does not come fully to the man in the buddhic world, but it does so come to him in that next above. (C.W. Leadbeater in Annie Besant and Leadbeater, CLP, 120.)

It is on the nirvanic plane that we realize most intensely that all that we thought to be our consciousness, our intellect, our devotion, our love, were in reality His consciousness, His intellect, His love, His devotion, manifesting through us somewhat as a light might shine through a lens. That realization does not come fully to the man in the buddhic world, but it does so come to him in that next above. (C.W. Leadbeater in Annie Besant and Leadbeater, CLP, 119.)

What can we say of the next stage of conscious¬ness, that which has often been called nirvana? This noble word has been translated to mean annihilation, but nothing could be further from the truth than this, for it represents the most intense and vivid life of which we know anything. Per¬haps it may not unfairly be described as annihilation of all that we on the physical plane know and think of as the man; for all his personality, all his lower qualities, have long ago utterly disappeared. Yet the essence is there; the true man is there; the Divine Spark, descended from the Deity Himself, is still there, though now it has grown into a Flame - a Flame that is becoming consciously part of That from which it came; for here all consciousness merges into Him, even though it still retains all that was best in the feeling of individuality. The man still feels himself, just as he does now, but full of a delight, a vigour, a capacity, for which we have / simply no words down here. He has in no way lost his personal memories. He is just as much himself as ever, only it is a wider self. He still knows that “I am I”; but he also realises, and far more prominently, that “I am He”. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 58-9.)

In the intuitional world [Buddhic Plane] his consciousness had widened so as to take in that of many other people. (1) Now [on the Nirvanic Plane] it seems to include the entire spiritual world, and the man feels that he is on the way to realising the divine attribute of omnipresence; for he exists not only in all those others, but also at every point of the intervening space, so that he can focus him¬self wherever he will, thus realising exactly the well-known phrase that he is a circle whose centre is everywhere and its circumference nowhere. He has transcended intellect as we know it, yet he knows and understands far more fully than ever before. On lower planes (lower than this, yet to us high beyond all reaching) he has seen the great Angels and Archangels in all their glorious order. In this spiritual world he comes face to face with the powers that rule, with the great Administrators of Karma, with the great Leaders of the Occult Hierarchy; with Planetary Spirits of stupendous power and wondrous beauty. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 59.)

(1) It must be remembered that Leadbeater is describing an individual who has either achieved Nirvana in this lifetime or else a clairvoyant able to visit the Nirvanic Plane. He is not describing a discarnate entity who attains Nirvana.

It is hopeless to attempt to describe this life which transcends all life that we know, and yet is so utter¬ly different from it as to seem almost a negation of it - a splendour of purposeful life as compared with a mere blind crawling along darkened ways. For this indeed is life and this is reality, as far as we can reach it at present; although we doubt not for a / moment that beyond even this indescribable glory there extend yet greater glories which surpass it even as it surpasses this catacomb life of earth.

There, all is God, and all these august Beings are obviously great manifestations of Him; and so thoroughly is this conviction borne in upon a man’s consciousness, so entirely does it become part of him, that when he descends once more to the phy¬sical globe of this sorrowful star he cannot forget it, but ever thereafter he sees the Divine Spark, even in the most unlikely surroundings. Down here it is often hard to recognise; we need to dig so deeply in order to find it. In that spiritual world it is self-¬evident, and we know, because we see it, that there is nothing but God - no life anywhere in all the worlds but the Divine Life.

For at that level the man himself has become as a god among gods, a lesser light among the greater lights, yet truly an orb of splendour, even though so much less than the Masters, than the Great Devas, than the Mighty Spirits who rule the destinies of men and worlds. There we see face to face all these great Beings of whom down here we hear and read, of whom sometimes we make faint images. There we see with open face the beauty of which down here we can but catch the faintest reflections. There we hear the glorious music of the spheres, of which only occasional echoes can reach us in this lower world. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 59-60.)

Nirvanic Consciousness

The nirvânic consciousness is the antithesis of annihilation; it is existence raised to a vividness and intensity inconceivable to those who know only the life of the senses and the mind. As the farthing rush-light to the splendour of the sun at noon, so is the nirvânic to the earth-bound consciousness, and to regard it as an annihilation because the limits of the earthly consciousness have vanished, is as though a man, knowing only the rush-light, should say that / light could not exist without a wick immersed in tallow. That Nirvâna is, has been born witness to in the past in the Scriptures of the world by Those who enjoy it and live its glorious life, and is still borne witness to by others of our race who have climbed that lofty ladder of perfected humanity, and who remain in touch with earth that the feet of our ascending race may mount its rungs unfalteringly. (Annie Besant, AW, 170-1.)

What Devachan is to each earth-life, Nirvana is to the finished cycle of Re-incarnation, but any effective discussion of that glorious state would here be out of place. It is mentioned only to round off the "After" of Death, for no word of man, strictly limited within the narrow bounds of his lower consciousness, may avail to explain what Nirvana is, can do aught save disfigure it in striving to describe. What it is not may be roughly, baldly stated--it is not "annihilation", it is not destruction of consciousness. Mr. A.P. Sinnett has put effectively and briefly the absurdity of many of the ideas current in the West about Nirvana. He has been speaking of absolute consciousness, and proceeds:

We may use such phrases as intellectual counters, but for no ordinary mind--dominated by its physical brain and brain-born intellect--can they have a living signification. All that words can convey is that Nirvana is a sublime state of conscious rest in omniscience. It would be ludicrous, after all that has gone before, to turn to the various discussions which have been carried on by students of exoteric Buddhism as to whether Nirvana does or does not mean annihilation. Worldly similes fall short of indicating the feeling with which the graduates of Esoteric Science regard such a question. Does the last penalty of the law mean the highest honour of the peerage? Is a wooden spoon the emblem of the most illustrious pre-eminence in learning? Such questions as these but faintly symbolise the extravagance of the question whether Nirvana is held by Buddhism to be equivalent to annihilation. (1) (Annie Besant, DA, 78-9.)

So we learn from The Secret Doctrine that the Nirvani returns to cosmic activity in a new cycle of manifestation, and that

The thread of radiance which is imperishable and dissolves only in Nirvana, re-emerges from it in its integrity on the day when the Great Law calls all things back into action. (2) (Annie Besant, DA, 80.)

(1) A.P. Sinnett, Esoteric Buddhism, 8th edition, 197.
(2) H.P. Balavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. ii, 83.

The nirvânic consciousness is the antithesis of annihilation; it is existence raised to a vividness and intensity inconceivable to those who know only the life of the senses and the mind. As the farthing rush-light to the splendour of the sun at noon, so is the nirvânic to the earth-bound consciousness, and to regard it as an annihilation because the limits of the earthly consciousness have vanished, is as though a man, knowing only the rush-light, should say that / light could not exist without a wick immersed in tallow. That Nirvâna is, has been born witness to in the past in the Scriptures of the world by Those who enjoy it and live its glorious life, and is still borne witness to by others of our race who have climbed that lofty ladder of perfected humanity, and who remain in touch with earth that the feet of our ascending race may mount its rungs unfalteringly.

In Nirvâna dwell the mighty Beings who accomplished Their own human evolution in past universes, and who came forth with the LOGOS when He manifested Himself to bring this universe into existence. They are His ministers in the administration of the worlds, the perfect agents of His will. The Lords of all the hierarchies of the Gods and lower ministrants that we have seen working on the lower planes have here Their abiding-place, for Nirvâna is the heart of the universe, whence all its life-currents proceed. Hence the Great Breath comes forth, the life of all, and thither it is indrawn when the universe has reached its term. There is the Beatific Vision for which mystics long, there the unveiled Glory, the Supreme Goal. (Annie Besant, AW, 170-1.)

Attaining “the Asekha Stage”

One who has reached the Asekha stage habitually carries His consciousness on the nirvanic level, even though He still possesses a physical body. I do not mean that He can be fully conscious on both the planes simultaneously. When He is actually writing a letter or conducting a conversation on the physical plane, His consciousness is centred there, just like that of the ordinary man, though the spiritual splendour is still present in the background; but the moment that His physical work is over, the con¬sciousness naturally springs back again to its accustomed condition, and though He still sits in the same physical chair, though He is fully alive and alert to all that is going on around Him, He is in reality living on that higher level, and earthly objects, though still present to Him, are slightly out of focus. This being His condition, the retaining of the physical body is only a modified sacrifice, although it involves a good deal of annoyance in the way of waste of time in eating, dressing, and so on. (Charles Leadbeater, MON, 37.)

Links

Home
Next
Back

Bibliography

Email: unity22@telus.net